Thursday, August 13, 2009

John Fred and his Playboy Band - Love My Soul

John Fred and his Playboy Band had their biggest hit in 1968 with "Judy In Disguise (with Glasses)", which satirized both the Beatles and the huge sunglasses that were a fad at the time. (Everything old is new again!) John Fred Gourrier was from Louisiana and his band excelled at Southern R&B grooves, but this style never translated into a national hit for them. It was only when they went for a pop gloss that their songs broke through. After three albums on Paula Records, the label dropped them and they disbanded. Fred got a new band together and signed to MCA/Uni, releasing a few more singles and one album, Love My Soul (1970). The new band did not include Fred's former saxophonist and songwriting partner Andrew Bernard; he wrote most of the songs on the album with his manager, Lynn Ourso. There is a distinct Beatles influence throughout the album, evident from the first track, "The Big Show", which not only sounds like "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", it also references it in the lyrics, along with "Judy In Disguise" (but which was written by outside songwriters). Side one closes with a Memphis-style cover of "Back in the U.S.S.R.", previously released as a single. In the middle of side two, the title track sounds like Fred's "Let It Be": a downtempo ballad that builds to an anthem, at which point the horns play the "Judy In Disguise" riff (co-written with Bernard). Sprinkled through the record are three more obvious singles: "Three Deep in a Feeling" (previously released). "Candy's Candy Kisses" (a dead ringer for Tommy James), and "Sadie Trout" (the album's other Bernard co-writing credit). Robert Christgau evaluates the album thusly:

With his sharp, nasal drawl, Fred was born to pop, and though he's lost collaborator Andrew Bernard, he's keeping Shreveport's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Fan Club going all by himself. Would anyone but a genuine eccentric rewrite "Sweet Soul Music" as a tribute to Johnny Winter, Pete Townshend, and Nilsson? "Agnes in Disguise (With Blanket)": "Sadie Trout." B-

The full track list is:

01 The Big Show
02 He Was My Friend
03 Where Will You Be
04 Three Deep in a Feeling
05 Sweet Soul Music-Can't Be So Bad
06 Back in the U.S.S.R.
07 Where's Everybody Going
08 Open Doors
09 Candy's Candy Kisses
10 Love My Soul
11 Leo Our Hero
12 Sadie Trout

Get the vinyl rip here or here. It's not from pristine vinyl so be prepared for some clicks and pops; if you like it you should be able to find a sealed copy for $40 or so.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

John Fred, awesome rip, thanks, pops and all.

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